Identity; Constructed and Complex

Identity is becoming more constructed than ever with social media outlets. Mass audiences conform to the codes and conventions of social media, changing profile pictures regularly, sharing moments that present success and choosing who they become friends / interact with.

‘Context and audience then become two primary aspects that influence self-presentation choices and strategies.’

Identity Construction on Facebook By Claudia Nir, 34

There is a sense that people share the content that they think will get the most interaction and the most admiration. Social media becomes a generous edit of identity and hides the vulnerability of reality; it becomes constructed.

‘Since people tend to desire social acceptance, they seek this acceptance by presenting themselves in the best possible light. Because Facebook users are connected with a multitude of audiences, for instance close friends, acquaintances, co-workers and family members through the same profile they are under pressure to choose more carefully how they present themselves to these multiple audiences.’

Identity Construction on Facebook By Claudia Nir, 30

Burnd and Hilla Becker

Burnd and Hilla Becker show us that a set of similar objects offers for greater comparison of each signal object. We begin to compare and notice the minor differences. These typologies show identity in a similar way that a set of profile images from Facebook can tell us more about a person, however constructed they are.

BecherGas berndbecher3 (1)

Hye-Ryoung Min

Photographer Hye-Ryoung Min’s project ‘Yeonsoo’ shows her relationship with her niece. The project reveals more identity for her niece because there are tens of images that each reveal another aspect of character. It acts as a documentation of her growing up as a ‘naughty 7 year-old’.


Jim Goldberg

Goldberg mixes media to provide a more collaborative portrait. The individual depicted in the portrait writes on the surface of photographic prints in renowned projects like ‘Raised by Wolves’ and ‘Rich and Poor’. The collaboration explores the participants identity through their own written reflection, it allows the viewer to have more interaction with the prints and adds more context to the portrait.

JB1 goldberg61

Grayson Perry

The work of Perry explores alternative storytelling of identity. His recent project and TV programme ‘Who are You?’ explores the identity of public figures such as ex-MP Chris Huhne and Rylan Clark from X-Factor; as well a Muslim convert and a young transgender man. Perry selects people who have had self-conflicts over their identity and seek to provide a mix-media portrait of their complex identities. He understands their story through conversation and represents them with objects and portraits that he believes define their complex identity.

Grayson Perry vase _78459010_the_earl_of_essex_2014

Michiel Spijkers

Spijkers poses that consumerism can reveal identity. By presenting a typology of purchased goods over the years, Skijkers shows how an individuals interests can change overtime. The series follows like time, and the objects consumed change overtime. It explores the change of identity and the influence of consumed goods on our identity.



The artists that I have selected explore representation through a lot of context, be it in multi-media or using more than one image to create a portrait. Identity is complex and a lot of information can help the viewer explore it and relate to their own.

‘In this workshop task you are asked to create a mechanical* montage of yourself and one of a close friend or relative. This montage should seek to be all that a passport photograph is not – something which tells us of the complexities of identity rather than attempt to provide neatly packaged information for digestion.’

A passport contains a heavily posed portrait of our facial features and appearance. It becomes a document of identification, a truth. But our identity cannot be contained in a heavily posed (seemingly robotic) portrait. Our identity is informed by the information we consumed and experience.

‘identity is created through performance rather than performance being a result of identity’.

Identity Construction on Facebook By Claudia Nir, 13

We perform the information that we consume, so we change. Through my mechanical portrait I hope to explore identity through our influences and experiences, not just through a single representation of someone’s complex identity, because it could adopt heavily posed (seemingly robotic) portrait. Then it would not be different to a passport photo.


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